June 22, 2010 – The Health Department today announced that it has exceeded its goal of bringing 2,000 doctors into the digital age through the Primary Care Information Project, a groundbreaking effort to improve preventive health care by introducing electronic health records into community-based medical practice. For the more than 1.5 million New York City patients treated by these doctors, advanced technology offers customized alerts for overdue preventive screenings and potential drug interactions, as well as best-practice guidelines for treatment. Doctors enrolled in the Primary Care Information Project can also give patients online access to their medical histories and print visit summaries to remind them of at-home instructions.
Founded in 2005, the New York City program is the largest of its kind in the nation. Its innovative health record helps physicians identify and address patients’ health risks. It also uses prompts and reminders to help doctors and patients better manage chronic diseases. When conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure are identified early and managed effectively, patients can often avoid heart attacks, strokes and other adverse health outcomes.
“Health information technology can strengthen prevention,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner – “and prevention is the key to an effective and affordable health care system. With nearly one out of five New Yorkers now benefiting from our prevention-oriented health record, New York City has created a model for the rest of the country.”
Nationally, most medical practices still use paper records. Many health care providers lack the technology to best determine whether a particular patient’s chronic illness can be effectively managed outside of a hospital. In 2006 alone, New York City could have prevented an estimated 120,000 adult hospitalizations through appropriate treatment in a primary care setting. Take Care New York 2012, the City’s health policy blueprint, aims to cut preventable hospitalizations by 17%. The Primary Care Information Project supports this goal though its active, patient-centered approach.
“Patients should come to expect that their doctor can quickly access their relevant health records and offer appropriate care in the context of their health history,” said Dr. Amanda Parsons, the assistant health commissioner who leads the Primary Care Information Project. “With 2,000 doctors already in our program and more joining every day, we can really improve coordination of care for New Yorkers.”
As health reform legislation rolls out nationally, policymakers are counting on electronic health records to help improve the quality of care while reining in costs. With support from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, state and local agencies have established 60 Regional Extension Centers to promote electronic health records and help doctors successfully implement them. New York City hosts one of these centers – NYC REACH – which will help nearly 5,000 physicians go digital.
Physicians interested in joining NYC REACH can visit nycreach.org or nyc.gov/pcip to learn more. And anyone can use the search tool at nyc.gov/pcip to find a New York City doctor who has adopted the City’s prevention-oriented electronic health record.